Family

A New Approach to Children’s Ministry

The following is an article which I wrote for our newsletter for July at Farmdale Baptist Church.  This article outlines the vision behind a new approach to children’s ministry for us.  This vision has best been articulated by John and Noel Piper in their article “The Family:  Together in God’s Presence”.

It has often been said that the most segregated hour in America is 11am on Sunday morning. This should not be!  If there is one place where differences of skin color should not matter it should be in the church of the living God.  But what is true in regard to segregation due to skin color is also true many times in our churches in regard to age.  The church often divides families into various age groups on Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings, and Wednesday nights.  The result is that there is no time during the week when the families of the church come together to worship God.  This also should not be!

We believe there is a better way.  This better way will allow us to continue to minister to children on their level by providing a listener’s guide to the sermon and allowing the children’s sermon to prepare the young ones to better understand the message to follow.  We will still be providing the same age-geared teaching during our Sunday School hour, as well as on Sunday nights and Wednesday nights.  Indeed, one of the great benefits of this new approach will be that the Sunday evening time will be more focused and efficient at providing an opportunity for outreach into the community and fun, interactive learning on the part of our children.

There are a couple of core convictions which motivate our thinking on this subject.  First, we believe in the priority of the Word of God preached.  When the apostle Paul wrote his letter to the church in Ephesus, a letter to be read to the entire congregation when they gathered for public worship, he did not hesitate to address the children whom he knew would be present in that assembly: “Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.”  (Eph. 6:1).  In the Old Testament when the people of Judah gathered to hear Ezra read the Law of God the congregation was made up all the men and women, but also all “those who could understand.”  We are not given precise ages, but clearly children were present at this assembly.  God has promised and been proven to bless His Word by imparting spiritual life to its hearers (see 1 Peter 1:23).  God’s Word is also the primary means by which believers are sanctified (see John 17:17).  Therefore, we want as many people possible to be under the sound of the preached Word.  This includes those children who can hear with understanding, as well as the children workers who are often cut off from the benefit of hearing God’s Word preached.

Second, we believe that families should worship together.  We believe that this is a healthy practice for children to learn to worship God by observing their parents, grandparents, other family members, and the entire body worshiping God.  We further believe that by giving the families of our church the opportunity to worship together, their families will be strengthened spiritually as they interact with each other regarding the listener’s guide to each Sunday’s sermon.

We realize that some children attend our church by riding the van without any accompanying parents.  Our goal is to reach their entire families with the message of the gospel.  But in the mean time, we will be asking volunteers in the congregation to allow a child to set with them during the morning worship and assist them in learning to worship the one true living God through their example and encouragement with the listener’s guide.

In short, we believe that there are many benefits to our new direction in our children’s ministry.  It is not flawless.  There will be adjustments that will have to be made.  But we are excited that everyone will have the opportunity to attend and participate in our Sunday morning worship, that families will be strengthened spiritually through the tools that are provided them, that our children’s workers will be encouraged and equipped for greater and more effective ministry because of their opportunity to hear God’s Word preached regularly, and that our church will now be better focused and more efficient at providing a Sunday night learning opportunity for our children and evangelistic outreach to our community.

Headed to the Southern Baptist Convention

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On Friday morning all seven of us (Gretta, me and our five children) will load into our minivan and start toward San Antonio, TX for the 2007 Southern Baptist Pastor’s Conference and Convention.  We will go half way on Friday and the rest of the way on Saturday.  Haddon and Hannah are looking forward to the children’s conference held in conjunction with the convention and I’m looking forward to certain parts of the pastor’s conference and convention.   One of the exciting things about the convention is the opportunity to see old and make new friends.  We’re also looking forward to seeing the Alamo and other San Antonio sites while we’re in town.  Please pray for us as we travel and let me know if any of you are also headed to San Antonio.

Birthday for the Boy

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Haddon riding the zipline in his new Spiderman suit
given by the Jeremy Weaver family

The other big event at our house this week was our oldest son Haddon’s eighth birthday. We celebrated on Friday with having his cousin Caleb over for a sleep-over. Haddon, Caleb, and I went to Thunder World U.S.A. to ride go-carts, hit in the batting cages, and play games in the gameroom. Afterwards, we looked around a bookstore at comics, DVDs and books. Then we went to the mall and Haddon bought a used Gameboy game with some birthday money and Caleb bought Haddon a couple of Spider-Man action figures and a Batman.

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Haddon preparing for the big race.

On the way home we went through the drive-in window at McDonalds for a couple of Cheeseburger Happy Meals and a Quarter Pounder with Cheese Value Meal (for me). When we got home the boys played on the newly hung zipline and played in the pool. Then they came inside for an ice-cream cake from Dairy Queen (decorated with a Burger King Spider-Man, have all the fast food establishments been missing?). After playing inside for a little while, we took Caleb to meet his parents. Me and Haddon came back and he opened his presents from us: a talking label maker and a Batmobile (we had already given him The Dangerous Book for Boys on Tuesday).

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Haddon’s Birthday Cake

Graduation for the Girl

This was an eventful week at the Weaver house. On Monday, we had a small kindergarten graduation ceremony to celebrate our oldest daughter Hannah’s completion of requirements for that class. My parents were in town Monday-Wednesday. And, our oldest son Haddon celebrated his eighth birthday on Friday. Another post will follow on Haddon’s birthday, but this post features Hannah and her special day!

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Hannah in front of the bookcases in my study

Since we homeschool our children, we had our own graduation ceremony for family at our church on Monday night. Hannah sang, quoted Scripture, and read a short story for the assembled throng. Afterwards, we ate cookies and drank kool-aid in the church’s fellowship hall. A good time was had by all!

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Hannah’s Official Graduation Photo (shot by her mom)

As a graduation gift for Hannah, Gretta and I presented her with something she has wanted for a long time: an easel!

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A priceless look of surprised joy!

Happy Mother’s Day!

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My mom (Jan) and our youngest child (Lydia)

A recent study has indicated that if the typical stay-at-home mother in the United States were paid for all her work as a housekeeper, cook, day care center teacher, laundry machine operator, van driver, facilities manager, janitor, computer operator, chief executive officer and psychologist, she would earn $138,095 a year. Mothers who work outside the home, would earn an additional $85,939 for their work at home. Although those are impressive numbers, the worth of a mother cannot be computed merely economically. As King Lemuel stated in Proverbs 31:10, “Who can find a virtuous wife? For her worth is far above rubies.”

King Lemuel went on to say,

The heart of her husband safely trusts her; So he will have no lack of gain. 12 She does him good and not evil All the days of her life. 13 She seeks wool and flax, And willingly works with her hands. 14 She is like the merchant ships, She brings her food from afar. 15 She also rises while it is yet night, And provides food for her household, And a portion for her maidservants. 16 She considers a field and buys it; From her profits she plants a vineyard. 17 She girds herself with strength, And strengthens her arms. 18 She perceives that her merchandise is good, And her lamp does not go out by night. 19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hand holds the spindle. 20 She extends her hand to the poor, Yes, she reaches out her hands to the needy. 21 She is not afraid of snow for her household, For all her household is clothed with scarlet. 22 She makes tapestry for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. 23 Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land. 24 She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies sashes for the merchants. 25 Strength and honor are her clothing; She shall rejoice in time to come. 26 She opens her mouth with wisdom, And on her tongue is the law of kindness. 27 She watches over the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness. 28 Her children rise up and call her blessed; Her husband also, and he praises her: 29 “Many daughters have done well, But you excel them all.” 30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. 31 Give her of the fruit of her hands, And let her own works praise her in the gates. Proverbs 31:11-31